We all know that the end of the Cold War led to an important paradox. On the one hand, the end of bilateralism resurrected the confidence in universalism and in the United Nations, but on the other it paved the way for the emergence of a sole great power, the United States, that often acts unilaterally and only according to national prerogatives. In addition, both agents have shown considerable limitations in shaping a global order that can bring about security and development to individuals. Hence, over the last years, the academic and the policy communities have gone back to the drawing board and have invested significant resources in identifying new agents and methodologies in international relations. This book contributes to this debate by analyzing the capacity of international organizations to serve as providers of regional peace and security. By doing so it does not question the cardinal idea that the United

Nations has primary responsiblity in the maintenance of international peace and security. Even if the UN Charter embodies an obsolete configuration of power, the central parameters, postulates, and principles of the UN are as relevant today as they were in the 1940s. But for a host of reasons that will be enumerated in the book, regional organizations have emerged to provide similar services to those of the UN and often to supplant it. Aware of its own operational limitations, the global body even encourages the delegation of responsibilities to international organizations and underlines that this process is in line with the UN Charter (chapter VIII). Needless to say, this raises fundamental legal, operational, and political questions. Is a division of labor between the global and regional bodies desirable? What are the major assets and shortcomings of international institutions? Although we conceptually tend to use the terms “regional organiza-

tions” or “international institutions,” the empirical reality is more complex, and several types of organizations might fit under that designation. As

will be discussed in Chapter 1, the UN Charter hints only at a distinction between “agencies” and “arrangements,” without providing any guidelines as to their difference. But in practice the group of institutions that are able and willing to partner with the UN is much more comprehensive and involves an impressive array of institutions with very distinct mandates, capacities, and experiences. Presently, there are approximately 38 organizations that have a regional

peace and security mandate, but because of its economy of space this book cannot provide a critical and analytical assessment of all of them. Therefore, as it aims to provide a global comparative overview of these organizations, we selected the most representative organizations in each continent: in Africa, the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC); in the Americas, the Organization of American States (OAS); and in Asia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the League of Arab States (LAS), and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Although the LAS is a cross-regional organization (situated both in Africa and in Asia) it was included in the Asia section since the majority of its 22 members are located in Western Asia (the Middle East). Finally, in Europe it includes the European Union (EU), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The book breaks down into three main areas. Chapter 1 provides an

analytical background to the subject matter by tracing the relationship between the UN and regional organizations and ascertaining the comparative advantages and disadvantages of these organizations; coupled with this, it also highlights what are still the major challenges in regional security. Chapters 2-12 provide a critical analysis of the eleven organizations: Parts I-IV deal with, respectively, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Chapter 13 assesses, from a comparative perspective, the major capacities of these institutions in conflict prevention, peacekeeping or peacebuilding.